|SCEC is very excited to announce that we have filled the coordinator position and will be welcoming Leah Hays to the SCEC team as our new coordinator starting next week. Leah has a bachelor of environmental science and has been working with environmental organisations in the Byron Bay area as well as leading a team of volunteers on an elephant conservation project in Sumatra.
An enormous vote of thanks goes out to all those who participated in the Climate Change Relay on 26 September. We didn't quite get the number we hoped we would so we are all the more grateful for those people that did take part. The relay finished with an intimate gathering at Cotton Tree Park where we had a chilling reminder of the extraordinary length to which corporate powers will go to protected their interests. If you haven't seen Merchants of Doubt yet we highly recommend you go and see it.
Thanks also to all the people who attended LawJam 17 looking at the best way to protect Koala's in South East Queensland. All the presentations of the evening are now available on our website for anyone interested in the topic.
As we indicated in the last e-bulletin SCEC has commenced working with Sunshine Coast Council to support community organisations and private landholders undertaking conservation and regeneration work. We will be featuring one project each month for which we will be recruiting volunteers to help with the enormous task that is weeding, planting, fencing and all those other jobs required to care for our environment. Our environment needs private and public landholders to keep land vegetated and care for the vegetation, through this series of working bees SCEC hopes we can contribute to this effort.
The project we are featuring this week is run by Petrie Creek Catchment Care Group and takes place along Namba Creek(Model Railway Park in Nambour). This project is part of Councils efforts to create a green pathway for walking and cycling throughout Nambour. The project started in 2013 with the removal of the Camphor Laurel mono-culture and planting of a range of native species. The new vegetation is now well established and progressing to maturity. The working bee will focus on removing weeds from the under storrey of the emerging forest and will take place on Saturday 17 October at 8:00 AM.
On a less optimistic note there are a number of planning scheme amendments being considered by Council that are giving us cause for concern. The most important among those are the proposed changes to the Palmview Structure plan. These completely remove all the sustainability initiatives that had been negotiated and agreed by the previous Council and the developers. If these amendments are passed it will changePalmview from a community that sets a new benchmark for what we expect from new communities to a bulk-standard, business-as-usual uninspiring stretch of urban sprawl. You have an opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments untilMonday 26 October (more details below).
Meanwhile the State Government is seeking to overhaul the Sustainable Planning Act in order to 'streamline' approvals and 'reduce green tape'. SCEC and its conservation sector partners have been working with the Ministers office in an attempt to ensure that vital environmental, public notification and community appeal provisions are retained, but we are fighting an uphill battle. We understand that planning legislation is a dull topic that is miles removed from most peoples daily lives, but bad planning is one of the greatest threats to the natural environment on the Sunshine Coast and it is vital that environmental protection is build into the new planning legislation. We encourage you to make a submission which you can do online until Friday 23 October. Check out this blog post on our website for more details.
The SCEC team
Individual membership in SCEC is counted as a donation for tax-purposes. By subscribing to one of our monthly membershipoptions you will be providing ongoing support our work protecting the natural environment while giving yourself something to smile about at tax time.
Steve Irwin Way
After an encouraging meeting with Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey MP, Expressions of Interest for what Main Roads dub an ‘Early Contractor Involvement Procurement Process’ (ECI) for the project closed on 01 October. Main Roads will now assess and shortlist the tenderers as part of Stage 1 during the rest of October. Indicative timelines would see two ECI tenderers contracted to progress detailed designs and associated information for a 16 week period from early November. It is during this commercial-in-confidence period that the suggested ‘innovation’ can occur with a better design with less environmental impact the hopefully the outcome.
SCEC continues to liaise with Main Roads while advocating for the forest to be avoided and ensuring that appropriate and effective fauna treatments to provide wildlife protection, movement corridors and landscape connectivity are incorporated in any scenario.
Main Roads have applied to the Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (Native state forests are largely managed by Queensland Parks & Wildlife) to have 24ha of the Mooloolah Logging Area (also known as the Steve Irwin Way Forest) revoked. This is viewed as a last resort in QPWS policy when essentially no alternative can be demonstrated. To push for the revocation of high value conservation native forest to come under Main Roads tenure prior to any further design work being completed remains concerning. As is the progression of the tender process while the project is still in the assessment phase under the EPBC Act due to significant impacts on Matters on National Environmental Significance with additional information requested by the federal Department of the Environment still outstanding.
Obi Obi Zipline
SCEC has recently reiterated its concerns about a proposedzipline in the Kondalilla Falls National Park to Minister Miles. The original proponent has pulled out of the project but a second party is currently in negotiations with the Department and other parties to explore the feasibility of the project. SCEC will continue its work with the National Parks Association of Queensland to ensure the zipline is not located within the boundaries of the National Park.
On a related matter the Queensland Eco-Tourism Plan, which relies heavily on protected areas, is being reviewed at the moment (see here for details). We will monitor the review and keep you posted about changes and opportunities to have your say about future uses of our natural environment
On Thursday 1 October the Caloundra South Development was officially launched by the Minister Jacky Trad. The new name for the community was unveiled with much fanfare 'Aura- The city of Color'. The unveiling was met with a lukewarm response (at best) from the gathered dignitaries and Minister Trad has since pointed out that this may be Stocklands marketing name for the community, but will not be its officially gazetted place name.
Leaving marketing shenanigans aside SCEC has ongoing concerns about Caloundra South. The environmental approvals are based on a promise that the development will not have a negative impact on water quality in the Pumicestone Passage. But the Pumicestone Passage is currently only getting a C grade on the healthy waterways report card. So a promise not to have an impact on water quality is only a promise not to degrade it further. What SCEC has consistently argued is that Stockland should demonstrate that the development will not preclude the Pumicestone Passage receiving an A grade in the future (as other efforts to reduce impacts and improve water quality are rolled out).
Unfortunately neither the State nor the Federal Government accepted our argument and the development received its environmental approvals. Our focus going forward will be on ensuring that the Water Sensitive Urban Design infrastructure, that will treat storm water run off before it is released into the creeks, is implemented as proposed and actually functions as it was predicted to function in the water quality modelling.
In late 2010 Sunshine Coast Council, the State Government, Unity Water and 3 developers signed off on the Structure Plan and Infrastructure Agreement for the Palmview development, a 925 ha site opposite the Etamogah Pub that would house a population of 17,000. The development would set a new sustainability benchmark delivering: an 80% reduction in demand from the water supply grid, renewable energy infrastructure and a zero carbon community, an active and public transport Greenlink to the University and the new University Hospital precincts, a minimum 12.5% of all dwellings to be affordable housing and a raft of other initiatives.
The proposed amendments being considered by council will remove ALL of these initiatives in one foul swoop. Instead of establishing ourselves as a region that truly aims to be 'Australia's most sustainable', these amendments will see us going backwards at a rate of knots. Instead of delivering affordable housing, a public transport oriented community and significant improvements in water and energy efficiency these amendments will allow the construction of yet another, stock-standard, business-as-usual, single-story-built-to-the-fenceline development.
If you agree with us that Council should be setting high standards for developers who want a share of the 'Sunshine Coast growing population pie' than please take a few moments to express your concern by making a submission on the proposed amendments. All the relevant documents can be accessed from Council's website with the key changes outlined in the explanatory memorandum and statement. Submissions are open untilMonday 26 October.
The Boomerang Alliance is recruiting
The Boomerang Alliance is Australia's peak eNGO working on waste reduction. They are seeking a new Community Campaigner in Queensland to work on a container deposit scheme, the phase-out of plastic bags and harmful micro-plastics. The Community Campaigner will work with our Queensland Manager to deliver a community-based campaign that supports our goals (more details).
Surfrider Foundation's Beach Clean Up!
Hey surfers! Get involved with fellow coastal community members at the Surfrider Foundation's beach clean up at Double Island Point to help keep our beaches clean!